Addressing Forced Marriages Involving Victims Outside of Their Country-of-Residence
last updated October 2014

In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at

Drafters should review diplomatic protocols to ensure that victims have access to consular assistance in third countries. Drafters should ensure that policies governing diplomatic assistance to dual nationals heed the country of habitual residence or greatest ties rather than defer to notions of state non-responsibility. Women and girls who possess dual citizenship particularly are at risk of being denied access to consulate assistance. Drafters whose states have ratified this convention may find it deters assistance to victims of forced marriage who have been removed from their country-of-residence to another country of nationality for purposes of forced marriage. States Parties to the Convention on Certain Questions relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws (1930) are barred from offering “diplomatic protection to one of it nationals against a state whose nationality such person also possesses” (Art. 4). Drafters should take note of commentators’ view that this principle is premised on the outdated doctrine of non-state responsibility; dominant and effective nationality principles provide that, regardless of dual nationality, the state to which the person has the greatest connection may offer diplomatic protection. (See: Sara Hossain and Suzanne Turner, Abduction for Forced Marriage: Rights and Remedies in Bangladesh and Pakistan, International Family Law, April 2001 (noting that commentary in the Explanatory Report of the European Convention on Nationality provides that a state may offer diplomatic protection to one of its nationals who holds dual nationalities))

                 States offering diplomatic protection to victims of forced marriage in other countries must ensure appropriate guidelines and trainings are in place for consulate officials.  Recommendations include: providing appropriate guidelines to consulate officials, in particular regarding assistance to dual nationality holders and not contacting relatives in the country-of-residence; training for consulate staff on women and girls’ human rights; establishing a database to monitor forced marriage cases; developing an intervention protocol modeled on child abduction responses; entering into consular agreements with other countries to ensure victims are guaranteed protection. (See: Hossain and Turner, 2001, 1-64, pp.15-24). (See also section on: Addressing Extraterritorial Jurisdiction).